The Schulich Leader Scholarship is among the most prestigious national scholarships that can be awarded to students gearing themselves to study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Nikko Po of HCI is one such student. The young scholar has been awarded a Schulich Leader Scholarship, providing a $25,000 award for tuition and expenses in each of his four years of proposed study. This year, the number of awards has increased to 100 from the previous 50, indicates a release from the sponsor.
Po, soon to graduate from HCI, has a remarkable academic record, hovering in the high 90 percent range for his classes. The award was brought to his attention by career and graduation coach Paul Raycroft.
“I found out about it on May 24,” explains Po. “I got a call after school announcing I was a Schulich winner. The scholarship goes to 100 people across Canada, nominated based on academics and extra-curricular. Of the 100 people chosen, 50 are for engineering and 50 are for any other science, math or technology related field.”
The award that bears the name of Canadian philanthropist Seymour Schulich seeks out entrepreneurial minded candidates who have demonstrated leadership skills during their school careers.
“We are proud to celebrate more than 10 years of Schulich Leader Scholarships, the premiere STEM scholarship program in Canada and the world. This group of 100 outstanding students will represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer and will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators,” says program founder Seymour Schulich.
Paul Raycroft, the Graduation and Career Coach at Humboldt Collegiate who facilitated the nomination process, couldn’t say enough about Po. “Our selection committee was unanimous in its selection of Nikko Po as our Schulich nominee. Nikko is an extraordinary young man. He’s an extremely hardworking, focused, and dedicated individual who strives for quality in all aspects of his life. He has an incredibly diverse skill-set which shines through his academic excellence ranging from Band to Calculus. However, what makes Nikko truly incredible is his love for family and determination to create positive change in the world around him. Nikko conducts himself with a level of integrity and character rarely seen in someone his age. He will no doubt positively influence the world around him as he continues his journey.”
Nikko certainly has demonstrated that volunteer commitment in his school years. After Nikko and his family arrived from the Philippines in 2009, he attended Humboldt Public School. During those years, he was part of student leadership in that school and even went to work with a grant proposal that helped develop the outdoor grow scape so visible along the school’s south side.
He credits some of his leadership development to his four year participation in the Scouts program in Humboldt.
“During my last year of Scouts, I actually attended the Canadian Jamboree where Scouts from all over Canada and all over the world came together to learn survival skills and do activities together. I learned a lot of things there, especially independence.”
Those leadership skills continued to be brought to bear as a member of the student leadership council in HCI. During his highschool years, Po continued with music as part of HCI’s band and choir program.
Soon it’s off to the University of Calgary as his chosen school to begin his studies in engineering. Po admits that he is anxious about the move to a large city away from his family and friends, but he treats it as yet another challenge to be overcome. He’s hoping that his studies will eventually take him into the field of civil engineering, and he entertains the entrepreneurial notion of someday setting up his own firm.
“I’ve always been very interested in infrastructure and road layouts,” Po confesses. “Sometimes I would memorize maps and guide my parents to where they wanted to go. Civil engineering is basically about designing for people and a city when it comes to building layouts, making sure everything is efficient and safe.”
Nikko is a fan of design simulation games like SimCity and Skylines, a sure sign that the civil engineering interest is embedded in his core.
Nikko Po is grateful for the guidance of teachers like Nicole Unrau in math and his employer supervisor Sandra Cheeseman, both of whom recommended him for the award. He also recognizes the contribution of his parents, friends and other mentors.
“I just want to thank everyone who has supported me who taught me everything to allow me to become who I am today and to win the scholarship.”
As he heads into exams, there’s no doubt that Nikko’s skill, determination, and forward thinking will land him in a place where “the world is his apple.”
The full press release issued by Schulich Leader Scholarship further outlines Nikko's accomplishments.